The Aesthetic in Kant (Bloomsbury Studies in Philosophy)
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Kant's Critique of the Power of Judgment is widely held to be the seminal work of modern aesthetics. In recent years it has been the focus of intense interest and debate not only in philosophy but also in literary theory and all disciplines concerned with the aesthetic.
The Aesthetic in Kant is a new reading of Kant's problematic text. It draws upon the great volume of recent philosophical work on this classic text and on the context of eighteenth century aesthetics. Kant's work is used as a basis on which to construct a radical alternative to the antinomy of taste - the basic problem of the aesthetic. In Kant's account is a theory of the aesthetic that, far from establishing its 'disinterested' nature, instead makes it symptomatic of what Kant himself describes as the ineradicable human tendency to entertain 'fantastic desires'.
although a form is involved in the sublime, in reality sublimity ‘is not contained in anything in nature, but only in our mind’: For the beautiful in nature we must seek a ground outside ourselves, but for the sublime merely one in ourselves and in the way of thinking that introduces sublimity into the representation of nature.59 In order to put forward this as a characteristic that distinguishes the sublime from the beautiful, however, he would have to prove that the grounds of free or dependent
critical reconstruction that would highlight those fruitful discords which are my main subject. However, as the intense scholarly interest which Kant’s text has aroused in the last few decades 8 Introduction amply attests, an uncontroversial thumbnail sketch of Kant’s aesthetics is, at present, quite simply impossible.23 Therefore, although my main interest in Kant’s text does not often overlap with the central concerns of the existing secondary literature – epistemology, ethics, the nature
incentive in the case of the moral law, he asserts, does not belong to the private, sensuous side of our being, that is, is not based on any sensuous impulse, but rather belongs to the workings of the moral principle itself, which though objective are nevertheless subjectively conditioned insofar as they are located in, and thus in part depend upon, the constitution of the subject: In the subject there is no antecedent feeling tending to morality; that is impossible, because all feeling is
developed. For it is speciﬁcally in dealing with the sublime that Kant’s account shows how the conceptual may be introduced into taste without compromising its apparent autonomy. Though Kant denies that judgements on the sublime are judgements of taste at all, it will be my contention in Chapter 4 that Kant’s own account shows otherwise and that, consequently, Kant’s analysis of the grounds 10 Introduction of the sublime is, in eﬀect, the analysis of a particular form of dependent beauty. An
values we are content with entertaining; and, even where less than creditable motives apparently play a role in the experience, aesthetics is anxious to show how such mobilization is nevertheless instrumental in some greater, that is, more than privately defensible, good.2 Yet so long as aesthetics seeks to justify rather than explain aesthetic pleasure/value it must have recourse to metaphysics, albeit metaphysics under the guise of psychology (as, for example, in I. A. Richards or Rudolf